Sex in history, by Gordan Rattray Taylor

The man who prefers to fall in love with married — and therefore officially unattainable — women is well known to psychoanalysts today, and this, as we have already seen, was the custom of the troubadours, for psychologically identical reasons; this is why the German Romantic’s preference for married women seems something more than coincidental.

A further sign of the matrist basis of this movement was that the Romantics advocated a lessening of the difference between the approved conceptions of the two sexes. The man was to develop his feminine characteristics, the woman her masculine ones. The German Romantic thought Schiller’s women who “swam in an ocean of femininity and his men, parading the masculinity,” ridiculous and ugly. He preferred Goeth heroes and heroines: delicate and dreamy men, free and daring girls. (144)

As with the mother identifying troubadours, there was element of yearning, a love of being in love, in their protestations, as if they were aware that the most poignant sensations were those of longing, and that fulfilment could only prove an anti-climax. Thus in Tieck’s Sternbald, which has obvious analogies with the story of Tristan, Woldemar exclaims to a friend:

“How fortunate you are in still having to seek for your unknown happiness. I have found mine!”